Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Book Reviews: “Forsaken”

“Forsaken” is the story of horror writer Thad McAlister, whose latest novel sets terrible events into motion and causes awful consequences for his family.




photo courtesy Hampton creek press

 

“Forsaken,” the novel by recent Carnegie transplant J.D. Barker, has been garnering a lot of attention. It was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for best first novel in 2014. Although Barker did not take home that particular honor, an offer came from the Stoker family to co-author a new novel featuring Bram’s most famous creation, Dracula.

The book also has received the thumbs-up from horror master Stephen King. Leland Gaunt, a character from King’s 1991 novel “Needful Things,” sets in motion Barker’s own tale of witchcraft and mayhem in New England.

“Forsaken” is the story of horror writer Thad McAlister. His latest novel, inspired by a mysterious journal his wife found in an old junk shop, takes place during the infamous Massachusetts witch trials of the 1690s. Thad believes the novel is his greatest achievement, but little does he know it will set terrible events into motion and cause awful consequences for his family.

Great horror writing is more than a series of shiver-inducing scares. It goes deeper into our fears and anxieties, laying bare the apprehensions floating around in our culture. Unease with foreign aristocrats revealed itself in the form of a dapper, blood-sucker from Transylvania. Worries that advances in science and technology were supplanting religious belief were packaged in the lumbering shape of Frankenstein’s monster.

And the male apprehension of female sexuality becomes a tale of witches bent on the destruction of society as represented by one family. The witch in question is referred to only as Her through most of “Forsaken” (receiving a name only near the end and only in the context of a male character trying to assert his will over the witch). Thad admits that she “represented what he feared most, what crept through the darkest corners of his mind, the crispy little voice he heard when alone, the bump in so many sleepless nights.”

Thad’s wife Rachael is pregnant with their second child, and “Forsaken’s” narrative gives the reader a glimpse into her trepidations as well. She is being haunted by dreams of a malicious crone bent on claiming the unborn daughter as her own. Rachael’s fear of being supplanted by a younger woman in her own home (her first child, Ashley, already shares private domestic rituals with Thad) seems to be playing itself out in these nightmares. And her fear that her husband will once again stray from their marriage comes to fruition during Thad’s business trip.

The flip-side to all of this dread is wish fulfillment. “Forsaken” is as much the story of a writer dreaming big as it is a story of supernatural scares. Thad hopes that his work will mean something to people, that it is special and important. Sure, the novel he has written, “Rise of the Witch,” may destroy his family, but in its power to resurrect a long-dead malevolence the book is indeed world-altering. Isn’t that the fantasy of every would-be writer?
 


photo: shutterstock

 

Speak Up
Oct. 18/ Alexander McCall Smith’s “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. Set in Botswana, the latest and 16th installment in the series, “The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine,” was published last year. Smith will speak at Mt. Lebanon Public Library’s third annual Joseph Wertheim Memorial Author Lecture, named for the long-time library patron. A VIP reception will be held at the library prior to the lecture. (Mellon Middle School Auditorium, 11 Castle Shannon Blvd., Mt. Lebanon; 412/531-1912, mtlebanonlibrary.org/lectureseries)

Oct. 22/ Conversations and Connections, a one-day conference hosted by the Chatham University MFA program, returns to Pittsburgh for a third year. Organized by Barrelhouse Magazine, the conference brings together writers, editors and publishers in a supportive environment intended for writers of all levels of experience. Workshops, panel discussions, and the popular Speed Dating with Editors, as well as a boxed-wine happy hour, will be open to all attendees. (Chatham University, 1 Woodland Road, Shadyside; writersconnectconference.com
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Waste Not: Kelly Lane's Fashion Designs are Eco-Chic

After noting how much fabric ends up in landfills, Pittsburgh designer Kelly Simpson-Scupelli found a way to incorporate the unused scraps into her fashion line.

Three Rivers Champion: Sloane Davidson

Davidson started an organization that gives refugee and immigrant families aid based on real, person-to-person relationships, not transactions.

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

PM on KD: The Fall Weddings Issue

PM Associate Editor Lauren Davidson appears on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about the fall Weddings issue.

The Airbnb of Camping Has Started Pitching Tents in Pennsylvania

The startup Tentrr connects landowners looking for extra cash with interested campers.

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

New TV Series Shot in Pittsburgh Area Premiering This Month

See if you recognize any of the locations in the thriller “One Dollar.”

Bocce, Pasta, Music and More Highlight Little Italy Days

Experience Italian culture and cuisine during Bloomfield’s annual Little Italy Days.

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

Come and Explore Wilkinsburg’s Divine History

The Sacred Spaces Tour takes visitors to the borough’s churches, mosques and historic buildings.

Comments

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

“Night of the Living Dead” to Appear on the Big Screen Again

The cult classic will be screened at the Byham Theater in honor of the 50th anniversary of its debut.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Enix Brewing Company Set to Open in Homestead

Owners David and Victor Rodriguez also operate two breweries in Madrid, Spain.

Comments

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

Apteka’s Roasted Sunflower: Summer's Most Interesting (and Instagramable) Dish?

The owners of the Bloomfield vegan eatery introduce a limited run of whole sunflower heads that you can eat like corn.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

6 Best Places to Get Your Nostalgia Fix in Pittsburgh

Ah, the good old days. They may be gone, but there are still a few places where you can get a blast from the past.

Comments

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.

Comments


Revisiting Fat Head's

Revisiting Fat Head's

The South Side stalwart punches above its weight thanks to good beer and gigantic sandwiches.

Comments

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

TopGolf is Big, Ridiculous, Still Fun

The new driving-range game is way over the top, but the game it's offering is fun and they'll ensure you have a good time.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
In Ben They Trust

In Ben They Trust

Going into his 15th professional season, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the key to a successful season.

Comments

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Steelers’ Saint Vincent Saga Even More Inspiring This Summer

Ryan Shazier's battle back from a paralyzing injury last season and his subsequent rehabilitation from spinal stabilization surgery is a more compelling saga than the Steelers’ quest to reach Super Bowl LIII.​

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The 400-Word Review: Alpha

The prehistoric drama is here to answer a question no one asked about the world's first-ever dog.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The 400-Word Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The light romcom is made for pleasing audiences — and in that respect, it succeeds.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Vintage Details Give Weddings Classic Feel

Combining the old and the new, these couples used their vintage details to create a modern-yet-elegant wedding day.

Comments

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Asking for Their Hand Doesn’t Go As Planned

These proposal faux pas serve as a reminder that sometimes things have to go wrong to end up right.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Painting Made Simple: Paintzen Launches in Pittsburgh

Partnering with PPG Paints, the company uses an online platform to match customers with professional painters and provide supplies.

Comments

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Make Your Mark by Entering Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade

Artists have until Sunday to submit their applications to the independent craft fair held annually in December.

Comments